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July 26, 2015

The Relationship Between Elder Iakovos Tsalikes and St. Paraskevi

The following stories come from the biography of Elder Iakovos Tsalikes of Evia (+ 1991) by Stylianos G. Papadopoulos titled The Garden of the Holy Spirit, where the relationship between Elder Iakovos from the 20th century and St. Paraskevi the Martyr from the 2nd century is recounted, beginning from the days of his youth in a village of Corinth, where his family settled after being uprooted from Asia Minor in the 1920's.

The Appearances of Saint Paraskevi

Every child would go to school once per day, but little Iakovos would go twice. He loved it very much, because in the first years, the school was housed in the chapel dedicated to Saint Paraskevi. He would go in the evenings and light the oil lamps. The boy would go alone and liked to stay until it was dark. He prayed according to his knowledge and ability. Then he would take the way downhill back home, through the pine forest.

One evening, however - he must have been eight or nine years old - while he was praying, Saint Paraskevi appeared to him alive, as she was depicted in her icon. The child was frightened, ran away and arrived home out of breath. He got so scared that he did not even turn to look back. Some days later, he went again to light the candles and the Saint appeared to him once more. He got scared again and ran away, but the Saint came out of the church, spoke sweetly to the child and calmed him down. He stopped running and turned back to see who was talking to him. The Saint explained who she was and told him not to be afraid. Little Iakovos went shyly up to the chapel. He sat by her and listened to her attentively. The appearances of Saint Paraskevi were repeated many times. Iakovos got used to that and was no longer afraid. They sat side by side and conversed. That much familiarity and innocent boldness the little one had with the Saint!

In one of her first appearances, after the little one was no longer shy, the Saint told him: "What do you want me, my dear Iakovos, to give you for the prayers you make in my house?" He did not know what he should ask for. In the evening, however, he asked his mother Theodora. She advised him ingenuously: "Ask her to tell you your fortune." Next evening, the Saint appeared and said to the child: "Listen to me. You'll see much glory, many people will come to see you, a lot of money will come into your hands, but it won't stay."

(Indeed, all this came true: Elder Iakovos was honored by rich and poor, wise and unlearned, rulers and ruled, university professors and high-ranking judges, monks, priests, bishops and patriarchs, who came to the monastery in the last years to meet him, be confessed by him, receive spiritual benefit, take his blessing. Also, he would be given a lot of money, especially in the last years, but he offered it to all those in need. Nothing would remain in his "bag", for he used to put money in a small woven bag, that was never empty, no matter how much he would give away.)

He himself, who related these things, added: "In any case, my brother, did Saint Paraskevi lie to me? Was the fortune she gave me a small one? She made me a priest of the mysteries of God!"

Saint Paraskevi Forewarns Iakovos

From 1938 till 1940, he [Iakovos] increased his ascesis very much. He ate very little, slept very little, prayed many hours in the night, while he worked hard during the day - as much as the other inhabitants and even more. His mother and father began to break down under the afflictions. He had to become the support of the house.

Besides, he had acquired such a purity of heart and mind through all the ascesis and prayer, that he could foresee great evils that approached.

The great forewarning also came. Saint Paraskevi had been appearing to him many times since 1940. One night, she appeared to him very serious and sad, and said: "Come here, my child, I want to tell you something. War is coming!"

The big evil came. The Second World War and the Greek-Italian War.